Being a parent is hard work. Being married to/living with a parent is also hard work. So here are a few handy tips based on my personal experience (and some from my friends) to help navigate the tough/busy/emotional times, balance out the domestic to-dos, and avoid frustrations, snark and general spousal pissed-off-ness. Note the below applies not just to husbands, but also to wives (like me). Read on, for marital and domestic bliss awaits you.
- Don’t make assumptions. About anything.
- When opening the fridge, take note of what’s not there, and add those items to a shopping list (physical or mental).
- When popping into the store, think about what’s on the physical/mental shopping list, and buy them. Heck, buy two.
- Do not question money or time spent at the hair or beauty salon. Budget for it in the family financial plan and tell her/him she/he looks lovely.
- Check with your partner before making purchases over a certain amount. Pre-agree what that amount should be.
- Don’t just talk about scheduling items; go ahead and put things on the family schedule. Physically or digitally. Just do it.
- Participate in meal planning (see items 1 & 2).
- Share homework checking and backpack management duties.
- Schedule regular alone time or time out with girl/man friends. Then do item 6.
- Don’t contribute to the general messiness and disorder of the house. Or at least try not to. And if/when you do, pick up after yourself. See item 16.
- Always be thinking/doing laundry. It’ll avoid those “I have no underpants” situations. It might even get you laid.
- Have assigned duties/roles (e.g. he handles finances/bill paying, she ensures kids has an adequate supply of clothes/shoes that fit even when they are growing like weeds which is like always.)
- Be united in your kid disciplining approaches. Kids can see through any weaknesses in a nanosecond and will use all and any leverage they can.
- Don’t make assumptions. I know, I know I said that before but, boy, it is everything.
- Tune in to each other’s work/stress load and proactively offer to take the kids out or handle a chore you don’t usually handle. Even better, take the initiative: book a babysitter, make a ressie and take him/her out for the evening.
- Just do it. Don’t wait to be asked. Like, if you see a mess.
- Listen. Put down your smartphone and listen.
- Watch/listen for unspoken cues. Like sighing, eye rolling or, you know, door slamming.
- Quash the temptation to snark about each other in public forums; instead celebrate each other on Facebook. (Snark about your kids instead. At least until they are old enough to read or use FB themselves. Cos then you are in trouble.)
- Never EVER assume (or state the words out loud) that time spent alone at the grocery store is the equivalent of real alone time.
(Am printing this off and putting on my bedside table to review on a regular basis.)
(Actually, am printing another one off and putting it on his bedside table too!)